Grant, John (1568?-1622) (DNB00)

GRANT, JOHN (1568?–1622), fifth laird of Freuchie, was the eldest son of Duncan Grant younger of Freuchie, and his wife Margaret, daughter of William Mackintosh of that ilk. Left fatherless in 1582 he was placed under guardians till 1588, before which year he succeeded as fifth laird his grandfather John, fourth laird of Freuchie, who died in 1585, and who was son of James Grant, third laird [q. v.] He was one of three commissioners appointed by the privy council in 1588, and again in 1590 with justiciary and extraordinary powers over the district of Moray for the apprehension of Jesuits and papists. In 1589 he signed a bond in defence of the true religion and of the king, with special reference to popish conspiracies at the time, and in the same year he joined the army led by James VI against George Gordon, first marquis of Huntly [q. v.]

In this way Grant incurred the resentment of Huntly, who, after having made his peace with James, returned to the discharge of his viceregal offices in the north. Grant thought himself affronted by Huntly, and with several of the neighbouring clans carried fire and sword into the territory of the Gordons. These hostilities, however, were peremptorily stopped by the crown; but Grant resumed the quarrel in a legal form in the courts of law. This issued in an amicable agreement in 1591, when Grant acknowledged himself again under the protection of Huntly. In the following year Huntly killed James, earl of Moray (the Bonny Earl), at Donibristle, Fifeshire, and Grant, whose grandmother was a Stewart, repudiated his allegiance to Huntly, and took up arms to avenge the slaughter of his kinsman. He joined the army which James VI sent soon afterwards under the Earl of Argyll to subdue Huntly. Argyll was defeated by Huntly at Glenlivet, and, when Huntly again regained favour from James, Grant deemed it prudent to keep himself more in favour with him.

In 1602 Grant was commissioned by James VI to put down witchcraft in the highlands. In 1607 he was chosen as one of two commissioners from the king to introduce the restored Bishop of Moray at the meeting of the synod of Moray under pretext of appointing the bishop constant moderator. About this time the clan Gregor or Macgregors had been proscribed by the authorities. Some of them found shelter with the Grants and assumed their name. A complaint was laid against Grant that he was a chief harbourer of the Macgregor outlaws, and he was ordered by letters from James VI to disprove the accusation and attest his loyalty by proceeding against the obnoxious clan. Grant apprehended a few of them; but notwithstanding this he was fined in a large sum for intercommuning with the outlaws and permitting members of his clan, for whom he was responsible, to do so.

As convener of the justices of the peace in Moray Grant was summoned in 1612 to attend a meeting of the privy council in Edinburgh. In 1615 he was again in Edinburgh, and sat as a juror on the trial of Patrick Stewart, earl of Orkney, who was convicted of rebellion and treason and executed (Pitcairn, Criminal Trials, iii. 308-18). In 1620 he had also a commission to deal with the 'vagabond gipsies,' whose lawlessness obliged the privy council to adopt stringent measures for their suppression. Grant added to the patrimonial inheritance the neighbouring estates of Abernethy and Cromdale in Strathspey, and also secured Rothiemurchus from the Mackintoshes as a Grant possession. He sold his Ross-shire lands to the Mackenzies, from whom his great-grandfather, John, second laird of Freuchie [q. v.], had taken them (History of the Mackenzies, p. 163). It is said that James VI in 1610 offered Grant a peerage, but that he refused it, asking the question, 'An' wha'll be laird o' Grant?' He died on 20 Sept. 1622, and was buried in Duthil churchyard.

His wife was Lilias, daughter of Sir John Murray (afterwards first earl) of Tullibardine, Perthshire. Their contract of marriage is dated 15 April 1591, and James VI and his queen are said to have been present at the marriage. John Taylor, the Water Poet, who visited Castle Grant in 1618, says she was a lady both inwardly and outwardly plentifully adorned with the gifts of grace and nature (Taylor, Works, ed. C. Hindley, 1872, p. 55). She was herself a poetess. She survived her husband till 1643, and bore to Grant one son and four daughters. Grant had also a natural son, Duncan, ancestor of the Grants of Clunie.

[Sir William Fraser's The Chiefs of Grant. i. 159-96; Shaw's History of the Province of Moray, pp. 31, 32; Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, vol. iv. passim; Sir Robert Gordon's History of the Earldom of Sutherland, pp. 192-226; Gregory's Highlands and Islands of Scotland, pp. 245-53.]

H. P.